What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes Nutrition: Top Foods to Eat (and What to Avoid)

Foods for People with Diabetes and Prediabetes

Salmon, brown rice and vegetables

A nutritious prediabetes meal: salmon, brown rice and fresh vegetables.

After receiving a prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis, you may think that your days of delicious, pleasurable food enjoyment are long gone. Well, lucky for you, that couldn’t be further from the truth!

People with prediabetes have higher than normal levels of blood sugar and, often, other related disorders, so, yes, they need to be more mindful of what they eat. Keeping blood sugar levels in check and cholesterol and blood pressure levels low is crucial, and diet plays a huge part in that! Plus, it’s extra important that people with prediabetes nourish their bodies with the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy.

Here’s a roundup of foods to eat and foods to avoid…

Foods to Eat
Whole grain foods
Eat bread, pasta, rice and other foods made with whole grains. Whole grains are a powerhouse of nutrition because they contain nutrients that refined grains are missing, since these nutrients are stripped from grains during processing. Whole grains have been shown to decrease insulin levels, decrease blood pressure and increase glucose sensitivity.

Whole grain foods include brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain corn tortillas, whole wheat pasta, whole oats, popcorn, quinoa, millet, and bulgur. All these foods should be easy to find at your local grocery store.

Fresh fruits and veggies
Fruits and veggies contain vital vitamins and minerals that boost your health. Opt for fresh non-starchy vegetables, which have nutrients and fiber and the fewest calories and carbohydrates (which raise blood sugar). Some non-starchy veggies include asparagus, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, salad greens, and tomatoes.

Fruit is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, but it has more natural sugar and calories than most vegetables. Try to get 3-4 servings a day. Many of the nutrient and fiber are found in the skin, flesh, and seeds of fruit, which may be lost during juicing.

Be sure to choose fruits and veggies in a variety of colors to ensure you get the widest array of phytonutrients in your diet.

Beans
Beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber promotes digestion by slowing the passage of food through the digestive system–keeping you fuller longer!–and can also help keep blood sugar and insulin levels steady. Throw kidney beans, navy beans or peas onto salads and pasta or use them as a side dish with your supper.
Foods for People with Diabetes and Prediabetes

Fish
Ditch higher fat meats (beef, pork, lamb) and eat more fish! Fish is a great source of protein and is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help increases “good” HDL cholesterol and reduces unhealthy triglycerides. People with prediabetes often have unhealthy cholesterol levels, and eating more fish will help improve these numbers. To gert the most omega-3s, choose salmon, mackerel or tuna.

Foods to Avoid
Full-fat dairy and cheese
Avoid or limit your intake of whole milk and full-fat yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, regular cheese, ice cream, and half and half. Instead, opt for low-fat or non-fat versions of these foods.

Or better yet, substitute with vegan dairy and cheese products (foods that aren’t made from animal sources). This includes products made from soy, almond, rice and hemp. These substitutes taste better than you may think! Almond milk, rice cheese, soy cheese, soy yogurt and even coconut milk ice cream are great options, especially for people who are lactose intolerant. (Sherbet is another option because it usually doesn’t contain milk.)

Also, try using dairy-free butter to spread on toast or mix into recipes. It tastes delicious and contains no hydrogenated oils.

Canned fruit and veggies
Canned foods lose many of their vitamins after soaking in water. Plus, they contain tons of added sodium, making them bad for people with high blood pressure, a common condition in people with prediabetes. Canned fruit with heavy syrup is loaded with sugar, making it not-so-good for people with prediabetes, who need to closely monitor their blood sugar levels.

Processed foods
They line the inner aisles of the grocery store and are loaded with sugar, salt and preservatives. Chances are, you know processed foods very well! Hot dogs, bologna, packaged lunch meat, white bread and pasta, potato chips, crackers, and cookies are all processed and spell trouble for prediabetics.

According to an article published in Diabetes Forecast magazine, chemicals in processed foods may promote insulin resistance. Chemicals called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) may trigger inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which damages tissues and causes insulin resistance.

Here’s a tip for avoiding processed foods: Shop the outer edges of the grocery store (such as the produce, dairy and meat sections) and avoid the inner aisles of the store. This will help ensure you’re buying only fresh, nutritious food!

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